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In my club, most of the people use Red Dragon gloves for sparring with steel longsword. According to the company's own description, these gloves are not designed for that purpose, even though it looks like they offer enough protection. However, if you want a higher grade of protection you must go for mitten-like gloves which cost two or three times more and have far more restricted mobility and added weight.

In my club, they are totally confident in Red Dragon but I have heard about broken fingers with those (youtube).

Does anyone with more experience have any advice?

  • I don't have personal experience, though a quick google search for some of the Dog Brothers' stickfighting forums pulled up some recommendations for gloves including lacrosse gloves - that said, I don't know how much control you'll lose for the extra protection with that. – Bankuei Mar 15 '16 at 6:12
  • sticks =/= steel longsword. Also red dragon gloves are like lacross but cheaper and harder. – kifli Mar 15 '16 at 8:08
  • Yes, sticks are lighter and not edged (even blunted edged), however the Dog Brothers folks go very, very hard and do direct hand shots a lot. – Bankuei Mar 15 '16 at 19:31
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    It is more about the shape of the weapon wood have fat edge while steel have thin one which unluckely can get through gaps in lacrosse gloves. So yep lacrosse is a terrible option everybody (that I know) who tried them complained about how easily hits get through protections. Anyway I already got my red dragons. – kifli Apr 1 '16 at 6:54
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This is a cost analysis (kinda) answer1.

What would being injured cost you? Do you have medical insurance/free health care? Would a broken hand/finger(s) mean you would be effectively unable to earn a living because you do a lot of manual work? Do you know how to use a left/right handed Dvorak keyboard? Once you have an idea of the cost of the injury as incurred by you, the next step is to work out how likely that injury is to happen.

Furthermore, as Drunk Cynic pointed out:

Further consideration for the severity of consequences may be warranted; beyond a broken finger, what would the impact be if a finger or the hand is effectively maimed. Nerve damage, bruised or disconnected ligaments, etc.

This is more tricky but you could work it out by seeing how many gloves are sold and how much injury there are. You could do that with just your club but the statistic might be biased. Then again, you are training there so it is a good sample space. Clearly, you would need to work it out for both type of gloves.

Now, you have the injury cost and the likely hood of it happening. This can give you a predicted cost over time. Depending on what your findings are, you can then decide which gloves you wish to purchase.

Clearly, you can do this all as bulk parts calculations instead of looking for the most precise data.

1 This is to be taken with a grain (or two) of salt. ☺

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  • Yes I do have free health care so it is not a problem but I work in IT so that would be really unpleasant from job viewpoint (incapacitation are paid thought). I will ask if some one got injured in my club but they love their red dragons the "master" believes that it is the best option. – kifli Nov 30 '15 at 13:15
  • Further consideration for the severity of consequences may be warranted; beyond a broken finger, what would the impact be if a finger or the hand is effectively maimed. Nerve damage, bruised or disconnected ligaments, etc. – Drunk Cynic Dec 2 '15 at 3:24
  • @DrunkCynic: A point well made. I shall add this to the answer. – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Dec 2 '15 at 8:37
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Red Dragon Gloves are rubbish for steel longsword. Here in germany, switzerland and austria they used to be tournament legal together with lacrosse gloves (in some places they still are) and they had widespread use 5+ years ago.

To make a long story short people broke their hands and fingers alot and most people reevaluate quickly if 150€ for a glove is too steep a price after they damage their own hand or see someone elses getting damaged.

Also red dragon has horrible quality control. We ordered a dozen pairs of gloves for club usage and about half of them had parts flying around (I'm not exaggerating) after some very light steel feder sparring in the first class. We complained to Red Dragon, but since we used them for steel sparring (which they explicitly state is not their intended use) they wouldn't replace them. Just for comparison our actual lacrosse gloves with similar protection levels were holding out for 5+ years.

The other half of the batch was okayish, but there's not much of a price advantage if you need on average two pairs of red dagon gloves to get one decent one.

So people wisely started to buy sparring gloves or spes heavys which are the defacto standard for steel longsword and both of those companies have decent customer support.

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The answer by Sardathrion is a really good one, but I would like to add some experience to that.

I mainly use the Red Dragon gloves as well. Mostly because they're a good compromise. They don't have the best protection, but I've never had any major incidents in them while some people in our club have suffered painful hits (no broken bones though) using mitten gloves.

When using mitten gloves I lose a lot of mobility and while that can be alright for some weapons (mainly pole weapons) I just don't feel comfortable using them for the longsword. Maybe the 3 Fingered Fechtschule might provide a bit more mobility, but I haven't tried those yet.

An alternative can be using actual steel gauntlets. I have a pair of Visby gauntlets that I use from time to time and they offer great mobility and protection, but at the price of added weight. Just make sure you get usable gauntlets and not ornamental ones.

All in all, I'm satisfied with the Red Dragon gloves and I value the mobility of them, but even though I haven't suffered any major injuries in them I should probably also point out that my sword has rings on the cross-guard and that some blows that would have hit the gloves if using a straight cross-guard are instead stopped or deflected.

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  • I haven't suffered any injuries. What you do ? This gloves have a hard plastic plates covered by plastic skin over it and have padding under. but I see few weakness: top finger could have a better protection and the interior part of arm are quite exposed. I got a point once there luckily the Velcro strap stop it. – kifli Jun 10 '16 at 12:08
  • With the Red Dragon gloves I have received blows that have hurt the top of my fingers, but nothing more serious than a bit of pain. We've had similar but more bloody incidents with both the SPES heavy gloves and a pair of metal gauntlets. – Szandor Jun 14 '16 at 11:45

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